Sunday, December 30, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: poverty

"Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge." —Dale Maharidge

For decades, I would've guessed the worst poverty in the US was in Watts, Appalachia, or Mississippi. Not true. From The Poorest Part of America*:
Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains...
The race of the people there? is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.
From U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty:
Nearly two out of three people (10.3 million) in severe poverty are white, but blacks (4.3 million) and Hispanics of any race (3.7 million) make up disproportionate shares. Blacks are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while Hispanics are roughly twice as likely.
Regardless of race, in the US, you have very little real hope of rising to a higher economic class. (See the "Country by Country" graph at A Closer Look at Income Mobility.)

If you focus on the fact that poverty in the US is racially disproportionate, you lay the grounds for two lies:

1. The racist lie: People of color are disproportionately poor because they're lazy or incapable.

2. The anti-racist lie: Poverty is primarily a problem for people of color.

The last time I checked, the poverty percentages looked like this:
Poverty rates for Blacks: 24.7 percent
Hispanics: 21.9 percent
Non-Hispanic Whites: 8.6 percent
Asians: 9.8 percent
The hard numbers looked like this:
Asian persons in poverty: 992,856 (2.92% of the people in poverty)
Black or African American persons in poverty: 9,168,000 (25.17% of the people in poverty)
Hispanic or Latino persons in poverty: 9,368,000 (22.68% of the people in poverty)
non-Hispanic Whites persons in poverty: 16,227,000 (49.23% of the people in poverty)
The hard numbers of Americans in poverty continue to increase, but the racial percentages haven't changed in decades. Shortly before his death, Martin Luther King wrote:
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
Thinking of poverty as a racial problem ignores 49% of the problem. Poverty is a human problem, and the solution is the same for everyone: better work, housing, food, health care, education... Poverty does not need to be made racially proportionate. It needs to be eliminated.

* Linked to a blog because that's from an Economist article that you have to pay to view.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cartoons for Social Justice Warriors

Sailorswayze: Social Justice League

Penny Arcade: Racist? Not racist?

Dinosaur Comics: Hey, That's RACIST!

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Internet Arguments

SMBC: Why I Won't Join Your Movement

SMBC: The Contextualization Fairy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: the death penalty

If you think the US is a classless society, race seems like an enormous factor in the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, these are the racial percentages for the 1320 people legally executed in the USA since 1976:
BLACK: 35%
WHITE: 56%
The site has another interesting set of numbers, the races of the victims:
BLACK: 15%
WHITE: 77%
Someone who only considers race would conclude blacks murder more than whites, and blacks are more likely to get the death penalty than whites.

But there are other factors. At Race and the Death Penalty, John McAdams says: is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?
So what might be involved in the systematic differences? Here's a hint: New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty FAQ notes "Ninety-five percent of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them."

The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. So, remembering that nearly everyone who's executed is poor, let's line this up:

Percentage of people in poverty who are white: 50%
Percentage of people executed who are white: 56%

Percentage of people in poverty who are black: 25%
Percentage of people executed who are black: 35%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Hispanic: 23%
Percentage of people executed who are Hispanic: 7%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Asian or "other": 3%
Percentage of people executed who are "other": 2%

The white and black poverty-to-execution ratio may be high because those populations are more urban and there's more crime in cities, while a higher percentage of the Latino poor is rural.

Looking for more evidence that the death penalty is more about class than race, I found a surprising supporter: Attorney General John Ashcroft gave this conclusion of a government study in 2001, "There is no evidence of racial bias in the administration of the federal death penalty." In this case, I don't see a reason to disagree. Bush and his cabinet (which was more racially diverse than any previous president's) were far more interested in money than race.

When I wrote about this in 2005, someone who identified himself as Carl left this comment:
For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system – the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk – I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another – they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California – your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes – you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

why do most women support feminism's goals and reject the name?

I found Poll: Women's Movement Worthwhile via Giving Feminism a Bad Name. The latter will infuriate middle-class feminists: it's written by a white male evolutionary psychologist. While I'm sympathetic to the occasional ad feminem 'cause ranters gotta rant, facts stay facts.

Like this:
In CBS’s nationwide random sample of 1,150 U.S. adults65% of women and 58% of men identified as feminist when an equal-rights definition was provided, but only 24% of women and 14% of men considered themselves feminist in the absence of a definition (Alfano, 2009, February 11).
When 17% of women think "feminist" is an insult and 12% think it's a compliment, the feminist movement has a serious problem. And blaming conservatives for what people think of feminism seems mighty silly now that most American men and women support equality for all men and women.

The problem with "feminism" are feminists. If any American dislikes egalitarians, I haven't heard about it. I'm sure there are some—the distrust of democracy by rich Americans goes back to the Founders—but my suspicion is Americans like people who identify as egalitarian because there's no ambiguity about whether you're arguing that women should be considered equal to men or better.

I often wonder if it matters whether you define yourself with adjectives or nouns. I would be reluctant to call myself a feminist, but if I ran into a macho jerk, I would happily use "feminist" as an adjective to clarify my belief. I like simple nouns that aren't ambiguous. You don't need to add "feminist" or "anti-racist" or "pro-gay" to "egalitarian". Either you believe in equal rights for everyone, or you don't.

Frankly, I think modern-day feminists are clinging to an old and noble word that's as useful today as "abolitionist". That fight has pretty much been won, but the gap between the rich and poor of all genders and hues continues to grow. Keep your eyes on the prize: a world of opportunity for all.

PS: Compare the popularity of "feminism" with "socialism", which conservatives hate also. In Democrats, Republicans Diverge on Capitalism, Federal Gov't, Gallup found that 39% of Americans have a positive reaction to socialism.

PS 2: She Can’t Sleep No More | Jacobin

PS 3: Equity and gender feminism - Wikipedia

PS 4: Shakesville: Explainer: What are Gender Feminists and Equity Feminists? is a fine example of how gender feminists claim equity feminists aren't real feminists, just like any religious sect claiming the other branches of its religion aren't real members of their faith. See The best God joke ever - and it's mine!

Monday, December 24, 2012

"How Santa Got His Red Suit" by Walt Kelly

Insomnia Notebook: Merry Christmas from Postino and Walt Kelly

Race vs. class in the USA: the drug war

You can find people of all races in US prisons, but you'll have to look hard to find anyone who wasn't poor. From Prison Legal News: "Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest."

The part of the criminal system that most disproportionately targets poor people of color is the drug war. John McWhorter notes, "The primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. If prison simply reflected poverty, the figures would be the same for all crimes. But Drug War Facts gives this picture for drug offenses: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

This might be because white poverty tends to be rural and black poverty tends to be urban, but I can't find the statistics to test that theory. Even when you adjust for class, the drug war seems racist.

There's another way to see whether poverty or race might be the major factor in a statistic. According to the US Census Bureau's Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005, the number of non-Hispanic blacks and whites in poverty looks like this:
White: 16,227,000
Black: 9,168,000
Since almost everyone executed in the US is poor, simply divide the number of blacks by the number of whites. In this case, you get .59, which is within tolerance for racial fairness.

But compare that with this, from Race, Prison and the Drug Laws: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

Selecting just for blacks and whites:
White: 64,800
Black: 133,100
Do the math, and you get 2.05. That disparity can't be explained by anything except a drug war that targets poor black folks.

Still, you can't ignore class in the drug war. Prison Sentencing Study: Whites, Women, Non-Poor, and U.S. Citizens Are Given Lighter Sentences quotes this from a 2001 study by David Mustard called “Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal Courts":
Having no high school diploma resulted in an additional sentence of 1.2 months. Income had a significant impact on the sentence length. Offenders with incomes of less than $5,000 were sentenced most harshly. This group received sentences 6.2 months longer than people who had incomes between $25,000 and $35,000.
I also found this claim, which, alas, isn't footnoted, so it may sound right and still be wrong:
Among those entering prison in 1991, about 70 percent earned less than $15,000 a year when they were arrested, and 45 percent didn’t have a full-time job. One in four prisoners is mentally ill, and 64 percent never graduated from high school.
In 2009, White House drug czar, Gill Kerlikowske called for an "end to the war on drugs" and said the drug problem in this country should be a public heath issue and not a criminal justice issue. Maybe Obama will get to it when he's done with health care.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A bonus Christmas grab bag

I keep thinking Deborah Allen's "Rocking Little Christmas" should be more famous. I love it too much, probably because it really isn't about anything other than having fun with someone you especially like.

But for sensual secular Christmas songs, no one can top Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby":

All I Want for Christmas Is... Jews -Faux Mariah Carey has a surprisingly profound insight: "They may have killed our savior; that's not the best behavior. That's okay, he rose three days later." Any Christian who ever heard, "The Jews killed Jesus," should've answered, "So what? He got better."

God bless us all, every one!
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

P.S. For a generally more spiritual grab bag of Christmas videos: A Christmas grab bag.

Why some people see "other": the Other-Race Effect

Here's another post for people who think everyone's naturally racist:

Several studies have been done to see whether babies have a preference for faces from their own racial group, and to learn why many people are better at recognizing faces from their own racial group. The following results are from
Note: I've made some tiny changes to make the following more readable, but what follows is my edit, not my prose. Click the asterisk by each point for the original wording and context.

* Adults typically find it easier to recognize faces from their own racial group, as opposed to faces from other racial groups. This is commonly known as the other-race effect.

* The preference for own-race faces doesn’t exist at one month of age.

* The own-race face preference develops by 3 months of age.

* Babies raised with frequent exposure to people of other races don’t develop this early bias.

* One study investigated 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old Chinese infants’ ability to discriminate faces within their own racial group and within two other racial groups (African and Caucasian). The 3-month-olds demonstrated recognition in all conditions, whereas the 6-month-olds recognized Chinese faces and displayed marginal recognition for Caucasian faces but did not recognize African faces. The 9-month-olds’ recognition was limited to Chinese faces. This pattern of development is consistent with the perceptual narrowing hypothesis that our perceptual systems are shaped by experience to be optimally sensitive to stimuli most commonly encountered in one’s unique cultural environment.

* Although the face processing system appears to undergo a period of refinement during this time of life, it does not become fixed. This is attested to by the finding that Korean adults who were adopted by French families during their childhood (aged 3–9 years) demonstrated the same discrimination deficit for Korean faces shown by the native French population (Sangrigoli, Pallier, Argenti, Ventureyra, & de Schonen, 2005). This finding is highly indicative of a face representation that remains flexible throughout both infancy and childhood. Although the face representation emerges early in life based on differential experience, it appears to retain its plasticity until at least 9 years of age.

* A plausible scenario for the emergence of the ORE is as follows: Predominant exposure to faces from a single racial group leads to greater visual attention toward those faces that in turn produces superior face recognition abilities with faces from that group and poorer recognition abilities with faces from racial groups that are not frequently viewed in the visual environment.

* Over three decades of research on the cross-race effect (CRE) suggests a rather robust phenomenon that carries practical implications for cases of mistaken eyewitness identification, particularly in situations that involve a poor opportunity to encode other-race faces and when a significant amount of time occurs between observation of the perpetrator and a test of the witness’s memory. While the CRE has not generally been observed in the accuracy of descriptions for own-race vs. other-race faces, research has found that individuals often attend to facial features that are diagnostic for own-race faces and misapply these feature sets when attempting to identify and describe other-race faces. As such, theorists have proposed that encoding and representational processes are largely responsible for the CRE, including the role of interracial contact and perceptual categorization processes.

* Significant exposure to other-race faces can block the development of own-race preference.

Or, as it's put in one of the few Rodgers-Hammerstein songs that I like:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Poor whites in the USA

The redneck is white America's scapegoat. For centuries, rich whites promoted racism, first to separate slaves and indentured servants, then to separate workers. Jim Crow laws were not a demand of poor whites—they were promoted and enacted by the South's defeated rich who still wanted to justify the "peculiar institution" and thereby escape their responsibility for the nature of their wealth.

Jim Goad said in The Redneck Manifesto, "These days, we hardly ever see the redneck as anything but a caricature. A whole vein of human experience, of potential literature, is dismissed as a joke, much as America's popular notions of black culture were relegated to lawn jockeys and Sambo caricatures of a generation or two ago. The redneck is the only cardboard figure left standing in our ethnic shooting gallery. All other targets have been quietly removed in deference to unwritten laws of cultural sensitivity. Instead of Amos-n-Andy, we have Beavis and Butthead. The trailer park has become the media's cultural toilet, the only acceptable place to dump one's racist inclinations."

The Poorest Part of America:"Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains... There are two unusual things about the deprivation in this region. First, it is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm. Second, most people do not think of themselves as poor."

Sherman Alexie alluded to that in Diary of a Part-time Indian. mentioning a place that's
...filled with the poorest Indians and poorer-than-poorest white kids. Yes, there is a place in the world where the white people are even poorer than you ever thought possible.
Dale Maharidge Interview: Covering The Economic Pain Of Real Americans: "Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge."

Op-Ed Columnist - The Roots Of White Anxiety -
...which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.
White, Poor and Ignored? | Poverty in America |
If we assume that poor whites are more likely to populate these rural communities, statistics point to a disproportionately low amount of money being distributed to assist these areas. For example, The Ford Foundation, which purports to be active in rural development, made just $68 million in active grants and loans to rural areas in its fiscal 2006, out of $360 million overall in the U.S. Also, according to a study by the Foundation Center, North Dakota was awarded $3.3 million from foundations, South Dakota $3.2 million and Montana $10 million — compared with $3 billion for New York and $2 billion for California in 2005. While North Dakota may experience the lowest unemployment rates in the country, residents there still must deal with growing poverty and homelessness.

The poet Emma Lazarus once said, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.
Possibly of interest: white trash names

Thursday, December 20, 2012

whiteness and poor whites in the 19th history

from old posts:

In some times and places, "white" just meant "American." From The great Arizona orphan abduction by Linda Gordon:
James Young, a black man at the Contention mine in nearby Tombstone, remarked "Si White and I were the first white men in Tombstone after Gird and Schieffelin."
• race and class for the Victorians

From a review of David Cannadine's Ornamentalism: how the British saw their empireWhy the Victorians were colour blind. In the 19th century, race mattered far less than social distinction: a West African tribal chief was unquestionably superior to an East End costermonger. By Kenan Malik:
Lady Gordon, the wife of Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, the governor of Fiji from 1875 to 1880, thought the native high-ranking Fijians "such an undoubted aristocracy". She wrote: "Their manners are so perfectly easy and well bred . . . Nurse can't understand it at all, she looks down on them as an inferior race. I don't like to tell her that these ladies are my equals, which she is not!"
A LiveJournal discussion, race and class in Victorian England, has some useful links—and was refreshing after encountering the obliviousness to class that's exhibited too often in discussions of race.

The First Black Britons is a bit simplistic when it addresses class issues--"white" servants were also inferiors whose purpose could be primarily decorative--but it's got great snapshots of blacks in Britain, and includes this:
The black and white poor of this period were friends, not rivals. So much so, in fact, that Sir John Fielding, a magistrate and brother of the novelist Henry Fielding, complained that when black domestic servants ran away and, as they often did, found '... the Mob on their side, it makes it not only difficult but dangerous to the Proprietor of these Slaves to recover the Possession of them, when once they are sported away'.
Also of interest: Class, Gender, and Race: Chinese Servants in the North American West

• Frederick Douglass on poor whites
The impression which I had received respecting the character and condition of the people of the north, I found to be singularly erroneous. I had very strangely supposed, while in slavery, that few of the comforts, and scarcely any of the luxuries, of life were enjoyed at the north, compared with what were enjoyed by the slaveholders of the south. I probably came to this conclusion from the fact that northern people owned no slaves. I supposed that they were about upon a level with the non-slaveholding population of the south. I knew they were exceedingly poor, and I had been accustomed to regard their poverty as the necessary consequence of their being non-slaveholders. I had somehow imbibed the opinion that, in the absence of slaves, there could be no wealth, and very little refinement.
• class war in the Confederacy

from Heather Gray: A New Perspective on the Confederacy
The South realized with the election that it was not going to have its way with the Republican Party or with the northern Democrats. Karl Marx, as ever the profound analyst, wrote in the German “Die Presse” in 1861, “When the Democrats of the North declined to go on playing the part of the poor whites of the South” the Southern elite took their sword from the scabbard (Marx,1861).

The southern elite also faced a growing poor white population that was becoming harder to control. Poor white voters were increasing and they were making more demands through their franchise. Some have inferred, including Williams, that one reason the South went to war was because the elite were more concerned about poor whites than anything else. “The poor hate the rich” was the cry from South Carolina planter James Henry Hammond, who went on to say that the poor make war on the rich “especially with universal suffrage” (Williams, 2008). The elite began to explore ways to control the vote through class-based restrictions on white suffrage. Placing this “class” antagonism and passion of poor whites into a war was certainly one way to control them and diffuse the anger.
• white trash, and the problem with one of Ta-Nehisi Coates' favorite quotes

Coates is fond of quoting Senator John C. Calhoun, who said 1848:
With us the two great divisions of society are not rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.
I left this note at Coates' blog:
The Calhoun quote is great, but remember that it was said by a rich man. Even slaves spoke dismissively of "white trash" who were never "respected and treated as equals" by rich whites.
From White trash:
The term white trash first came into common use in the 1830s as a pejorative used by house slaves against poor whites. In 1833 Fanny Kemble, an English actress visiting Georgia, noted in her journal: "The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash'".[4][5]In 1854, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the chapter "Poor White Trash" in her book A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe tells the reader that slavery not only produces "degraded, miserable slaves", but also poor whites who are even more degraded and miserable. The plantation system forced those whites to struggle for subsistence. Beyond economic factors, Stowe traces this class to the shortage of schools and churches in their community, and says that both blacks and whites in the area look down on these "poor white trash".[6]By 1855 the term had passed into common usage by upper class whites, and was common usage among all Southerners, regardless of race, throughout the rest of the 19th century.[7

it is always the season to forgive

There are petty reasons to forgive people—if you want to annoy your enemies or look like you're better than them, forgive them first and unconditionally.

There are selfish reasons—whether hating people is bad for your soul depends on your faith, but medical science says stress and anger will shorten your life.

There are practical reasons—nursing a hatred distracts you from more important things.

And there are wonderful reasons—forgiveness opens the possibility of a better world for everyone.

There are no bad reasons, so long as you know what forgiveness entails. It can't have conditions—that's a truce, not peace.

It may be the hardest task anyone can take on—every war proves that. But all great teachers know its importance.

The Gospel of Luke says, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

The Talmud says, "Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand."

The Qur'an says believers are people who "when they are angry they forgive."

Real Live Preacher on "Forgiveness":
Forgiveness does not always lead to a healed relationship. Some people are not capable of love, and it might be wise to let them go along with your anger. Wish them well, and let them go their way.

Whatever happens, forgiveness is good food for your soul.
Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan said, "The lover of goodness loves every little sign of goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise above the lack of harmony and beauty, until at last one arrives at the stage when one begins to reflect all that one has collected."

The Sikhs' Adi Granth may say it best: "Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself."

Maggie and Suzzy Roche - "Anyway":

"Bring em all in: - the Waterboys:

Monday, December 17, 2012

US mass shootings don't fit race-based explanations

Some thoughts on Newtown shooting | MattBruenig | Politics: "According to Mother Jones, over the last thirty years, 42 of the 62 mass shootings have been carried out by white men (only one has been committed by a woman). So white men are the shooters in 67.7% of the mass shootings. This is a sizable majority of them, but it is important to note that — according to 2011 census — non-Hispanic whites make up 63.9% of the population. And this percentage has been declining, meaning it was higher during most of the 30 year period in which these shootings happened. So whites do not appear to be accounting for a disproportionate number of the shootings. Men do, but violent crime is pretty much an exclusively male thing anyways. This presents at least some difficulty for race-based explanations."

John Ralston Saul on the weakening of democracy

"Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens."

You know what's problematic? Problematic!

I don't have a post to go with the title. I just realized I'd read one too many Warriors saying their favorite word, "problematic."

I think it means "I don't know what's bothering me, but it's your fault."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

when Spike Lee called Samuel L. Jackson a "house slave"

Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' Reignites Debate Over N-Word In Movies - The Hollywood Reporter:
In 1997, Spike Lee took issue with the heavy use of the term in Jackie Brown, which was Tarantino’s homage to the blaxploitation films, as well as in his earlier works. 
“I have a definitely problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the N-Word. And let the record state that I never said that he cannot use that word - I’ve used that word in many of my films - but I think something is wrong with him,” the director, one of America’s pre-eminent black filmmakers, said in an interview. Lee also compared the angry response of Samuel L. Jackson -- Tarantino’s lead in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown -- to his comments as "the house slave defending the massa." Incidentally, in Django, that is exactly the role Jackson plays, as the conniving slave looking out for DiCaprio.
There's something hypocritical about objecting to "nigger" and then calling a black man who does not shy away from the word a "house slave." I wonder if Lee's apologized, or if Jackson just continues to think of him as a twit.

As for any artist's use of any word, if the people you're writing about would've said something, let them say it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One reason I love Sitting Bull

When Sitting Bull was touring with Buffalo Bill’s wild west show and talking to a crowd of visitors that included ragged adults and barefoot children, he said, "I know why your government hates me. I am their enemy. But why do they hate you?"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Upton Sinclair on art and propaganda

"All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda." —Upton Sinclair

white = rich

the racism of social justice warriors: erasing the black middle class (2012)

I was listening to community radio this morning when a couple of older, and possibly white, guys began talking about who the police serve. One said it was the "over class" and when asked to define that, said it was white men.

Which social justice warriors would agree with. In their view of the world, white men have the power.

Now, you could argue that the fact the richest man in the world is brown is an exception, and so is the fact that the tenth and fifteenth richest people are female.

But where is the black middle class in this view of power? Where are the people who produced Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama?

In SJW terms, SJWs erase the black middle class.

ETA: Apologies for erasing the rest of their erasure, the erasing of prosperous Hispanics and Asians.

Pro-equality or anti-what? (2007)

From Colorblindness on the U.S. Supreme Court:
In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of Chopra's commentary was a turn of phrase in its ending:
Despite the overwhelming public support for school integration in both Seattle and Louisville, five powerful white males were enough to squash a society's better nature. A pall hangs over the court for what they did, to the English language as much as to fair play.
The five "powerful white males" in question? Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito Jr., Anthony Kennedy -- and Clarence Thomas.
The pro-choice and pro-life movements were wise enough to choose names of support rather than denial, because the problem of being anti-choice or anti-life was obvious. But most "anti" groups fell into a trap: If you call yourself an "anti", your name perpetuates the idea you oppose. That's especially true for anti-racists; "race" is a social construct that's only a few centuries old, yet those who choose to be antiracists validate the concept of race with their name.

The simple alternative to being any of the popular "antis" is to be pro-equality. It even implies being pro-peace: if you believe everyone is equal, who can you happily kill?

But being pro-equality means you believe in equality for everyone. Some anti-racists like the idea of having poor people to serve them. Whether it was a careful choice or a revealing typo, that's why Deepak Chopra called Clarence Thomas "white." As a rich liberal, Chopra is reluctant to talk about class, but as an antiracist who accepts the labels of race, he's comfortable saying that rich conservatives are "white."

A part of me likes this redefinition of race, where the colors have nothing to do with the hue of your skin and are simply markers of tribal allegiance: as a communist, my race is "red", and as a conservative capitalist, Thomas is "white," but what is Deepak Chopra? If the American dollar was still the most important measure of wealth, I would say he was "green," but greens are either ecologists or a party of socialists. It's better to reject the old labels of race than to redeploy them.

There's another reason some people prefer to be "anti" rather than "pro." Being "pro" implies work: if you're pro-peace, you must do something to show your support of peace. If you're pro-equality, you must do something to support everyone, no matter how different others may think they are.

"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." Thomas Paine

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Upton Sinclair's advice to socialists is still good

"The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to "End Poverty in California" I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them." —Letter to Norman Thomas (25 September 1951)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

oppression vs exploitation, and the liberal limit on "classism"

From When we say "class", what are we talking about? |
The resolution of problem of “classism” is essentially liberal. This isn’t necessarily a criticism. In the here and now, I don’t want gay people to be discriminated against. But I’m basically demanding that liberal democracy does what it says on the tin and treats everyone as equal, sovereign subjects. The same goes for racism, sexism, etc. The culmination of these politics is formal and informal equality as liberal citizens and on the labour market. This is perfectly possible within capitalism.
But when we understand “class” as describing a relationship with capital, the implications are very different. We’re talking about an exploited class, not an oppressed one. I.e. the class has surplus value extracted from it, it is not discriminated against. This cannot be resolved by granting the working class equality with capital. It must result from a resolution of the struggling interests of workers and capital through the expropriation of capital and the construction of a society based on human needs.
This difference has been correctly described as a politics of oppression as opposed to a politics of exploitation. The resolution of oppression is liberation, the resolution of exploitation is expropriation. Only one necessarily points beyond capital.
This is an extremely useful distinction for me, because it explains the well-paid people who are contented to be exploited—they don't feel oppressed. The worst that will happen to them is they'll be fired. Wise capitalists try to keep the obviously oppressed far away from the contentedly exploited, and when they can't, they make the contentedly exploited feel superior—they're house slaves, not field slaves, and they admire Master, and they know that if they get the chance, they'll become just like Master some day—see the long history of slaves in US history who became slavers after they won their freedom.

Friday, December 7, 2012

the wisdom of Charles Darwin

“Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” —Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back" by Will Shetterly

Also at Medium: Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back, a Dragaera fanfic

This is a bit of fanfic inspired by the Vlad Taltos stories of Steve Brust. Or maybe by the Paarfi stories. —WS

Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back

by Will Shetterly

Once, so long ago that no one remembers their names, a Yendi and a Dzur went to war. The Yendi used seventeen strategies, each more clever than the one before, to deprive the Dzur of all her allies and resources. When the Yendi heard the Dzur had nothing left but her sword and her honor, he laughed in anticipation of her surrender or her death.

But he stopped laughing when a guard said a lone warrior was approaching the castle with a sword in her hands. The Yendi climbed the castle walls to see for himself. Before the front gate, the Dzur stood shouting, "Yendi! I've come for our final battle! One of us shall die in honorable combat!"

The captain of the guard said, "Shall I have our archers answer her?"

The Yendi nodded, then smiled and said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to deflect arrows, and her last allies are hidden in the woods to aid her if I come out to fight. Send half our soldiers by the back gate to scour the forest and thwart her plan."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he laughed at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur. "—a dozen warriors and a stout gate remain between us and the Dzur."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shetterlys in the Civil War / War Between the States

Shetterly - American Civil War Soldiers - lists male Shetterlys who served, but there was at least one female. TNJN - Old Gray Cemetery's Lantern and Carriage Tour revives past mentions "Margaret Shetterly Pesterfield Haynes, a Civil War nurse, fought to collect her service pension and then helped black nurses do the same."

I like her.

I don't know what was up with the one Shetterly who fought for the Confederacy. Shetterlys tended to be poor farmers, so I doubt he owned slaves, and he may've been fighting for patriotism rather than slavery—there were, after all, slaveowners on both sides of the Civil War. Or he may have been drafted. In any case, I'm descended from the Iowa Shetterlys who fought for the Union, so that guy's not part of my bloodline.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"white vote" is code for the richer side in the class war

Does Obama Have White Voter “Problem”? — The Monkey Cage: "Since the mid-1970’s Democrats have had a white voter “problem.” Obama is a Democrat. This is by far the best lens through which to view white support for Obama.  Conversely, it is also the best lens through which to view black support for Obama.  For example, LBJ received essentially the same level of black support in 1964 as did Obama in 2008. ... In 2008, Obama garnered about 43% of the white vote. This was the high water mark for Democratic presidential candidates since Jimmy Carter in 1976 – not coincidentally about the time in which party polarization starts to take hold in the U.S.  Put differently, Obama received as much or more white voter support than Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter (1980), and even Bill Clinton (see the data here or see the historical chart in the Post piece here)."

The entire post is short and very much worth your time. I just wanted to stress the above because I keep seeing identitarians obsessing over the white vote. If racism is the reason for the vote, white racism hurt Clinton more than Obama.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

quibbling with Jay Atkinson on the requirements of storytelling

From Book review: “Elsewhere’’ by Richard Russo - Books - The Boston Globe: "the requirements of good storytelling are harsh: three-dimensional characters, a strong sense of place, and the accumulation of specific sensory detail. "

I think that's a useful list, but I must add that all of those things are extremely subjective, and sometimes what's wanted are archetypes, a place that could be anywhere, and the unrelenting storytelling push of dialogue and action.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kushner and Spielberg's Lincoln

 Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner made a great movie with a misleading title: it should be called The 13th Amendment. It’s funny and touching and beautifully made. There are two minor Spielberg moments that I would cut, but that’s a tiny quibble. While all the actors are great, Tommy Lee Jones gets to have the most fun. Lincoln joins Glory at the top of the tiny group of great Civil War films.

Some critics wanted a different movie, either about the maturation of Lincoln, who grew from thinking black folks should be sent back to Africa, or about the black people involved in the abolition movement. Those movies would have room for Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, and they would cover at least five years. But this movie is about a crucial month in American history. It owes more to suspense films than bio pics or costume dramas—it’s not about the growth of a character, but about whether that character can succeed in a limited amount of time against enormous obstacles.

There’s a truth that many people don’t want to acknowledge: oppressed people almost never have the resources to free themselves. Ending slavery in the US was mostly the work of white men, the people who held the power. A hundred years later, the civil rights movement required black folks and white folks working together. When the oppressed are isolated, they fail like Spartacus and Nat Turner. Victory requires unity, and Lincoln, both in this movie and in history, was a master of finding what unites us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism, Parts 1 & 2

Part 1

Halloween is supposed to be transgressive, meaning it's supposed to be a time when a culture's norms are challenged. Which is why so many different groups fight to control it. In the social justice community, that's taken the form of criticizing sexy costumes.

Many of which, I grant, are ugly or stupid or both.

But the complaint of social justice warriors is that they're sexy. Given that when Halloween was first celebrated, the "costumes" were nudity and deshabille, that seriously misses the point.

Until the 1930s or so, Halloween costumes were only associated with the supernatural. My hasty googling doesn't come up with much in the way of early ghosts and demons, but here are some historical images of sexy witches from a blog that's very easy to google, Sexy Witch. (For the wage-slaves among you, yes, that site is generally NSFW, but this post will only have images that should be SFW, unless your boss is an extreme prude.)

Here's an 1855 illustration from Robert Burns' Tam O'Shanter:

Here's an 1895 illustration for a White Witch costume to wear to a Fancy Ball. Note that the bodice is shockingly low and the ankles are revealed in a very daring fashion:

They may not seem sexy to you, but they know what they're evoking as witchy women in the woods. Here's a Pears Soap label from the same decade:

The sexy witch costume may have begun to thrive in the Roaring Twenties. Here's a tally card:

And an ad:

From the 1930s, a Halloween witch, actor Nancy Carroll:

From the '40s, aircraft nose art:

And one of my favorite sexy witches, Dusty Anderson:

The 1950s gave us water-skiing witches:

And possibly the greatest pin-up painting of all time, Gil Elvgren's "Riding High":

Halloween is a time to play. If your idea of playful includes sexy, go ahead and outrage the neo-puritans. They're always happiest when they have something to be unhappy about.

Happy Halloween!

PS. I just googled "sexy puritan" and came up with a couple more images that, on first glance, appear to be fairly old.

Part 2

After posting sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism, I did a little more googling for Halloween costumes. Here's the range of visible skin for men and women that's available to anyone with a credit card:

So when someone complains about skin-revealing costumes, remember that they're not complaining about not having choices. They're complaining about the possibility someone else might show skin.

I chose the picture of the people in buckskin because they were literally the first couple who came up when I googled for sexy costumes. At the site, the writer notes they're racially insensitive, but I doubt anyone in the universe thinks any American Indian ever dressed anything like that. And if you assume "buckskin = American Indian", all you know about Indians came from Hollywood.

Catholics are the largest religious denomination in the US, but they're not excluded from the US's available sexy costumes:

A transgressive holiday will include something that will offend someone. Sometimes being offensive is the point. More often, it's simply because outrage junkies need to be offended by something. What they don't understand: Silly does not equal offensive. Sexy does not equal offensive. Stupid does not equal offensive. Mocking equals offensive.

Prudes say we should try to avoid offending people. As a principle, that's true. In practice, that's impossible. If you work hard enough to avoid offending anyone, you will let the most repressive people win.

In the discussion about my previous post at Google+, Sean McCrohan said,
Is your point that "it's always been this way" is an argument against objecting to something? Because I'd like to submit 'oppressing the lower classes, since practically forever' into the record in that case :)
He's completely right that tradition alone is a terrible reason for doing something. I focused on tradition because I had seen people talking about sexy costumes who thought they were a new development.

My greater argument is simple: people should be free to wear what they like. It's a free speech issue, which the people who are offended recognize. They think certain kinds of clothing send a message that they want to repress.

In the case of sexy clothing, the message is "sex is fun".

Some people really hate that message.

In the G+ comment thread, Kirin Robinson said,
...there's value to a not-actually-arousing sexual aesthetic (no matter your orientation) in mainstream visual culture that is a different thing from intent-to-arouse straight-up pornography, but frustratingly the pulchriphobes can't seem to tell the difference. for that particular word goes to the artist +Zak Smith and the "chainmail bikini wars" over here in the tabletop gaming world.
Zak Smith's word is lovely. I suspect I'll have cause to use it again. But I really hope I don't.

comments on Part 1: sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism

comments on Part 2: more on sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism

Monday, October 29, 2012

class and catcalling

This video about catcalling is both funny and a fine illustration of the ineffectiveness of Social Justice Warriors:

The advice? Men should talk to their friends about how women hate catcalling. The ineffectiveness? Catcalling has an enormous class component. The men who will talk to their friends about catcalling are not the problem, and neither are their friends. They're usually in a social class that doesn't catcall.

The problem is recognized in Catcalling and Connections to Class at Sustained Enthusiasm. The writer doesn't have room to explore the connection, maybe because exploring it calls for exploring US capitalism, bad schools, and the lives of men who don't have work. Some of those men catcall in the way poor people buy lottery tickets, knowing it won't work but, for a moment, being able to dream that it will. Others catcall because, for one brief moment, they're more powerful than someone else.

A proper study of catcalling would explore the class dynamics. Do poor women and middle-class women respond the same way to catcalling? Do they get the same kinds of catcalls? Do they get them from the same kinds of men?

I'll keep looking for answers. But right now, I'm glad I was able to find someone who saw the problem clearly enough to acknowledge that this is yet another issue with an enormous, rarely acknowledged class component.

Rebecca Watson (Skepchick) and "no means no"

From Sexism in the skeptic community: I spoke out, then came the rape threats.:
The audience was receptive, and afterward I spent many hours in the hotel bar discussing issues of gender, objectification, and misogyny with other thoughtful atheists. At around 4 a.m., I excused myself, announcing that I was exhausted and heading to bed in preparation for another day of talks.As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?” I politely declined and got off the elevator when it hit my floor. 
A few days later, I was making a video about the trip and I decided to use that as an example of how not to behave at conferences if you want to make women feel safe and comfortable. 
...My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.
I have enormous sympathy for Skepchick because I've gotten insults and death threats from haters online. But haters are the price of speaking on the internet—something that's triply true on Youtube, as anyone knows who has made the mistakes of reading comments there.

What fascinates me in her story is her interaction with the man at the conference. She's with a group at a bar at a hotel. It's 4 am. She's going back to her room. He's going back to his. He asks her if she'd like to come to his room for coffee. She says no and leaves. End of story.

Was he hoping for more than coffee? Probably. This situation has been and will be played out many times. Sometimes the man offers; sometimes the woman does. Sometimes it leads to sex; sometimes it leads to coffee and conversation. Sometimes it ends badly: men have been robbed and women have been raped when they accepted an offer from someone they shouldn't have.

But this man understood that "no means no." He offered coffee. She declined coffee. They went their separate ways.

And it should be acknowledged that he may not have wanted more than coffee and conversation. I've been in groups that broke up when I still wanted to talk. Coffee at 4 am in a hotel room can be exactly that, a chance for a private conversation with someone who seems interesting.

I don't plan to go digging into Skepchick's beliefs about sex—life's too ashort—but I'm curious. Does she think men should never make any offer that has the potential of leading to sex?

When I was a young would-be actor in New York City, I was hit on fairly often by gay men. Sometimes the timing was annoying, but I was raised to be polite. My response was invariably, "No, thanks." Some of the guys became good friends after learning I was hopelessly straight; others had no interest of any sort in me once they learned I had no sexual interest in them.

I've always believed that "no means no", whether you're talking about sex or anything else. It's a good standard for every sort of human interaction.

At least, I always thought so, until I read Skepchick's account.

Because some people have remarkably poor reading comprehension, I'll stress that I'm not condoning the response to her. Haters respond with empty expressions of hatred, and if you've had no experience with them, that's terrifying or infuriating or both.

But I must add, as someone who has gotten similar threats from women, that the online crap she's encountered says nothing about men. It only says that people who can't reason will fall back on threats and abuse.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Independent voters are less racist than Republicans or Democrats

Another tidbit from AP poll: Majority of Americans harbor prejudice against blacks | National Politics and Election News:
The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).
This bit from AP poll: Slight majority of Americans harbor prejudice against blacks rings true:
Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.
I test as one of the whites with a pro-black bias, which may be why I voted for Obama in '08, even though I knew he was a neoliberal who would do pretty much what he's done. I'm voting Green this time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm not the only one who noticed slactivists fall for hate crime hoaxes

Bogus hate crimes all the rage - "But rumors, fueled by social media, started almost immediately. Internet posters speculated that the attack was a hate crime that had been carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Several claimed, falsely, that Moffit, who is black, had been wearing an Obama T-shirt and that she had been sexually assaulted. Reporters from media around the world called officials in Winnsboro."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cesar Cruz on art

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― Cesar A. Cruz

Richard Burton on nice poets

"The only nice poets I’ve ever met were bad poets and a bad poet is not a poet at all—ergo I’ve never met a nice poet." -Richard Burton

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An update from Zathlazip about life after her outing

Fandom’s First Great Fail: The Doxxing and Mobbing of Zathlazip

on Outing Violentacrez, Pseudonymity, Free Speech, and the Right to Work

tl;dr: Gawker's Adrian Chen knew that if he outed Violentacrez, the moderator of sexually creepy but legal forums on Reddit, Violentacrez would lose his job, his disabled wife would lose her health insurance, and they would be in danger of losing their home. Violentacrez offered to close his forums and cancel his Reddit account if Chen would not out him. Though Chen could have written about him while preserving his anonymity, Chen chose to out Violentacrez. The only practical result of this was to make a family lose their income and health care and put them in danger of losing their home. On Reddit, new forums immediately sprang up to replace the old ones—and Chen's hypocrisy should be obvious, because Gawker still hosts upskirt pics too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

anti-racist excess: the digest

1. Businessman arrested over 'anti-gypsy' email he did not even write: A businessman became the subject of a £12,000 police investigation after council officials accused him of being “offensive” to gypsies in an email he had not even written.

Maybe it's like an April Fools Day joke that I don't get because I'm not a local. But it appears to be real. The Daily Mail covered the story also.

I hope the gypsies get to keep their home. But I also hope someone changes the law that came into play there, because freedom of speech includes the freedom to be a rude idiot.

Brits may not have a constitutional right to free speech, but many of them do get the concept: We all have the right to be offensive.


2. First read NBC Cafeteria Celebrates Black History Month With Fried Chicken Special (Update)

Then read Cook defends fried chicken choice for Black History Month menu and play the video. The cook's a black woman. She came up with a menu of what's been called soul food.

Anti-racists, I realize this is hard for you to understand, but fried chicken is not racist.


3. MARTA "Yellow" Train Now "Gold": Atlanta Asian Community Pushed For Change:
The Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority, known as MARTA, announced the change Thursday. MARTA recently renamed its train lines with colors – yellow, red, blue and green.

The yellow line went to Doraville in the northeast suburbs, an area that has a large Asian population.
And the red line went to an American Indian village, the blue line went to a tree of Na'vi, and the green line went to Mars.

Dear anti-racists, the color yellow is not racist.

As you would expect, there's a Mixed reaction on MARTA's ‘yellow line' rebranding.
"What difference does it make if it's yellow, gold or black," said Gary Gung, noting that New York and other major cities use color coding to help commuters better navigate their transit systems. "Make the issue about the economy or something else more important."
Kenny Wong, manager of the Hair Capital salon, said such racial issues tend to be overly scrutinized in America.

"I heard about [the controversy]," Wong said. "It doesn't matter to me. Only racial people think about things like this."

His friend, John Nguyen, owner of Saigon Deli, took a different approach. "I don't consider myself yellow. I'm gold," he said, smiling.


4. Russian Ice Skaters 'Aboriginal-Themed' Dance Controversy:
Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin Aboriginal-themed costumes and dance stirred controversy during the Vancouver Winter Olympics Feb. 21, 2010. Australian media cited aboriginal leaders as complaining that the routine contained inauthentic steps and showy costumes. "It's very offensive," Sol Bellear of the New South Wales state Aboriginal Land Council said. "We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture and it is yet another example of the Aboriginal people of Australia being exploited." Their coach, Natalia Linichuk, responded to the accusations, saying, "Aboriginal, it translates from Latin language, it's from the beginning. We try to represent a picture of this time when Aboriginal people start being in the world. It's no customs, no country, nothing." (Reuters)
Why are people who complain about cultural appropriation so quick to impose their concepts of racism on other cultures?


5. White Sorority zeta tau alpha wins Sprite Step Off.

Their victory provoked charges of racism and a change in the official result. I especially liked this comment atYouTube - White Sorority zeta tau alpha wins Sprite Step Off!!!: "The only color is ego. We are all one."

'The bottom line was they didn't care if the girls were better or not, the people that were upset were saying white girls should not have won, period,' Antoine said. 'I think this is bigger than a step competition. Race relations in America still needs a lot of work,” he said.

Ironically, it was an attempt to foster unity that first brought Zeta Tau Alpha into stepping. The chapter at the University of Arkansas began participating 16 years ago in a Unity Step Show sponsored by the campus chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., an African-American sorority.� Through the years, the Zeta Tau Alpha teams learned a variety of steps as well as some history on the tradition of stepping, said Alexandra Kosmitis, a senior Zeta Tau Alpha who is a member of the current step team.
Even if Zeta Tau Alpha was best, I can't quibble with Sprite's solution: two teams got to win.

The comments at youtube are interesting. There are people who say they're black who say this team deserved their victory. And yet, it may've also been dancing bear syndrome--not that this team won because they're white and therefore better, but that they won because expectations were so low for a white team.


6. Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees on Cinco de Mayo.

Yeah, the kids were probably being assholes, but freedom of speech has to include the freedom to be a jingoistic jerk.


7. History is racist!

And now, the antiracist community is upset because a TV show is focusing on history they don't know about rather than history they already know about: racebending: I'm like, 'Where are the Chinese?'. All communities like having their preconceptions validated.

I get why they want more stories about the Chinese in America. I'm as frustrated as anyone that Hollywood ignores working folk of all hues. I hate the tendency to cast white folks wherever possible--I want to visit the universe where Bruce Lee got to be the star of the Kung Fu TV show.

But, to use identitarian terminology, why are they playing oppression olympics?

This is yet another example of identitarians being unable to engage with class issues. They have a vision of the 19th century that Hollywood created for them: all black folks were slaves, the railroads were built by Chinese laborers, women were either farmwives or whores... They are as fond of old Hollywood mythic history as any racist who rants about revisionist historians.

 Someone could as easily argue that people who want to focus on the Chinese crews want to "erase" the Plains Indians. Picking any point to tell the story is going to leave out someone initially. While I would've used a Chinese crew because I've always loved stories about the Chinese in the Old West, I can see an argument for choosing a setting that's not as well known and for making the story move from east to west, a direction that's symbolically very powerful.


8. From Phillip Roth's An Open Letter to Wikipedia About Anatole Broyard and "The Human Stain":
“The Human Stain” was inspired, rather, by an unhappy event in the life of my late friend Melvin Tumin, professor of sociology at Princeton for some thirty years. One day in the fall of 1985, while Mel, who was meticulous in all things large and small, was meticulously taking the roll in a sociology class, he noted that two of his students had as yet not attended a single class session or attempted to meet with him to explain their failure to appear, though it was by then the middle of the semester.

Having finished taking the roll, Mel queried the class about these two students whom he had never met. “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?”—unfortunately, the very words that Coleman Silk, the protagonist of “The Human Stain,” asks of his classics class at Athena College in Massachusetts.

Almost immediately Mel was summoned by university authorities to justify his use of the word “spooks,” since the two missing students, as it happened, were both African-American, and “spooks” at one time in America was a pejorative designation for blacks, spoken venom milder than “nigger” but intentionally degrading nonetheless. A witch hunt ensued during the following months from which Professor Tumin—rather like Professor Silk in “The Human Stain”—emerged blameless but only after he had to provide a number of lengthy depositions declaring himself innocent of the charge of hate speech.

A myriad of ironies, comical and grave, abounded, as Mel had first come to nationwide prominence among sociologists, urban organizers, civil-rights activists, and liberal politicians with the 1959 publication of his groundbreaking sociological study “Desegregation: Resistance and Readiness,” and then, in 1967, with “Social Stratification: The Forms and Functions of Inequality,” which soon became a standard sociological text. Moreover, before coming to Princeton, he had been director of the Mayor’s Commission on Race Relations, in Detroit. Upon his death, in 1995, the headline above his New York Times obituary read “MELVIN M. TUMIN, 75, SPECIALIST IN RACE RELATIONS.”

But none of these credentials counted for much when the powers of the moment sought to take down Professor Tumin from his high academic post for no reason at all, much as Professor Silk is taken down in “The Human Stain.”